Ghana to begin testing central bank digital currency

Ghana is a step closer to testing its central bank digital currency (CBDC), the country’s central bank has revealed. The deputy governor of the Bank of Ghana stated recently that the country’s shift towards digital payments have made the need for a CBDC even greater.

Ghana’s economy has undergone great transformation in the past decade, Deputy Governor Maxwell Opoku-Afari stated. This has led to an uptake of digital payment technologies.

Speaking during a virtual workshop for the payment services industry, he said, “Individuals, businesses, and government have shown strong preference for digital payments for reasons of convenience, efficiency, speed, affordability, round the clock availability and robust audit trail.”

The regulator is working to establish a fintech sandbox to encourage innovations in the digital payments industry. It will use the sandbox to test digital payment concepts, with a CBDC being on top of the list, local outlet Pulse reports.

Ghana revealed its CBDC plans in late 2019, with the central bank governor stating that it would be tested in a sandbox environment. The CBDC will complement the rapid growth of the country’s mobile money industry, the governor stated. He also revealed that the CBDC would be instrumental in the government’s financial inclusion efforts. Ghana currently suffers from inequality in its banking sector, with more unbanked women and rural area dwellers.

Ghana has been one of the biggest adopters of digital currencies in Africa. In 2019, it registered the fourth-highest Google searches for Bitcoin, behind its neighbor Nigeria which had the highest searches.

However, despite the adoption and the CBDC interest, Ghana is yet to formulate regulations for the digital currency industry. In January 2019, the country’s Securities and Exchanges Commission proposed licensing digital currencies as legal tender. This was after several investors lost their money to a digital currency startup. Not much came from this proposal, and digital currency traders still operate in a grey area.

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